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Thome, Blackburn lift Twins over Red Sox

By Jon Krawczynski

AP Baseball Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Jim Thome hit a tiebreaking RBI double during Minnesota's three-run eighth inning and the Twins beat the Boston Red Sox 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Thome also had a run-scoring single and the Twins got an outstanding effort from Nick Blackburn to snap a six-game losing streak and avoid a sweep.

Thome hit the 119th pitch from Jon Lester (11-6) over Carl Crawford's head in left field for a 3-2 lead. Blackburn gave up an unearned run and six hits in 6 2-3 innings and Joe Nathan picked up his ninth save.

David Ortiz went 2 for 4 with a homer and Lester gave up four runs and eight hits in 7 1-3 innings for the Red Sox. The left-hander also issued five walks, tying a season high.

Danny Valencia added an RBI double and Tsuyoshi Nishioka came through with a run-scoring single off Alfredo Aceves to give Nathan a little breathing room heading into the ninth.

The Red Sox were losing 2-1 when Ortiz stepped into the box in the eighth against lefty Glen Perkins, who has been dominant this season but has struggled a bit in the last week.

It was power against power, and Perkins gave him straight gas the entire showdown. He hit 96 mph on six pitches before cranking up and reaching 98 on his final offering to Ortiz, who sent the pitch 419 feet into the bullpen behind center field. It was the first homer Perkins allowed this season in 178 plate appearances.

Success against his former team is nothing new for Ortiz, who was allowed to leave the organization after the 2002 season. He is hitting .333 (54 for 162) with 12 homers against the Twins, and is 9 for 19 (.474) at Target Field. His fingerprints have been all over this series, with go-ahead singles late in the first two games.

Thome never would have been in a position to put the Twins ahead in the eighth if not for Blackburn's sharp effort.

Few could say they saw this outing coming from him. In his previous eight starts, he was 3-5 with an 8.15 ERA and 65 hits allowed in 38 2-3 innings. He had allowed 16 earned runs in his last three starts.

If Scott Baker wasn't placed on the disabled list on Tuesday with an elbow injury, Blackburn may very well have been pitching for his job Wednesday night.

All he did was handcuff one of the deepest, most formidable lineups in the game for almost seven innings. With a biting sinker and a befuddling changeup, Blackburn held the highest-scoring offense in the majors scoreless through six as the Twins took a 2-0 lead.

The Red Sox finally got on the board in the seventh, but only after Twins second baseman Trevor Plouffe muffed a grounder from Jacoby Ellsbury that would have ended the inning. Marco Scutaro followed with an RBI single to chase Blackburn, and Perkins got Adrian Gonzalez to pop out to end the inning.